It’s T-minus four weeks until Christmas.
I’m not ready.
In previous years I’d have 90 per cent of my gifts bought and the house almost ready to decorate. This year, well, is totally out of whack. I don’t have to go into details because it’s something we’ve all been living through.
That being said, I do have Christmas sweets on my mind. Go figure!
“You can be miserable before you have a cookie, and you can be miserable after you eat a cookie, but you can’t be miserable while you are eating a cookie.” — Ina Garten
Have any of you ever taken part in a Christmas cookie exchange? It’s the best. What other event allows you to walk away with your arms filled with an assortment of goodies? Whoever created it is a sweet-toothed genius. Best idea ever! On that thought …
Whoa. Did you know there’s a national cookie exchange day? How did I not know this? Dec. 22 is the official day this year (thank you Google). Of course, you never really know what’s legit on the internet, the one thing I found in common with a few articles is that it originated in the Middles Ages. It kind of makes sense. It wasn’t a time of excess, and it was at a time when ingredients like dried fruits and spices were popular. I can see how they would share their holiday baked goods with family and friends.
“Home is where the heart is. Heart is where cookie is. Math clear: home is cookie. — Cookie Monster
If there’s one thing I enjoy about cooking and baking is learning new tips and tricks. My other mind-blown moment writing this column, aside from learning about National cookie day, is that you can bake cookies in a muffin tin.
Why would you do that you ask? You know when you package cookies four or six at a time, one on top of the other, and place them in a bag with a pretty bow? Well my foodies friends, the muffin pan gives all your cookies a perfect round shape.
You may not think this is a big deal at first.
But, take a moment to think about how annoying it is when trying to match same size cookies so they all fit in nicely together. By baking your cookies in a muffin pan, you’re preventing the cookies from spreading out, like they typically do on a cookie sheet. Plus, you end up with a thick, soft and chewy cookie. Is this just me or did my cookie OCD come through? Come on, I know at least one of you out there is saying “Yes girl, I totally get it.”
What do you get when you use a deer-shaped cookie cutter? Cookie doe. — Unknown
A couple of things to keep in mind: make sure your muffin pan is well greased with butter or a non-stick spray before putting in the cookie mixture. Do not over bake your cookies. I’m using a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I found on averiecooks.com called browned butter chocolate chip cookies, I baked them anywhere from nine to eleven minutes.
Last but not least, let the cookies cool completely in the pan before removing them. You put all that work into getting this right, the last thing you want is for them to fall apart at the last step.
Packaging cookies for a cookie exchange can be a ton of fun. There are so many options. There’s anything from putting them in bags and using a simple bow to tie them up nicely. You can use the traditional muffin tin or a box. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention festive parchment paper — loves it!
“A balanced diet is a Christmas cookie in each hand.” — Unknown
Hopefully, this has been of assistance for your Christmas cookie exchange. If you’re not doing an exchange in-person, give some thought to a cookie front door drop off. A simple gesture that will put a smile on someone’s face this year. There’s no greater gift than the gift of kindness.
Happy holiday baking!
Erin Sulley is a self-confessed foodie who lives in Mount Pearl. Instagram: @erinsulley.